Thursday, July 1, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Grosses Gewachs, Part 1 Of A Series Of 17,416 (June 27, 2010)

I now know I could spend a lifetime tracing the intricacies of these beauties. Of course, I also say that about my beloved Bourgognes and clarets, not to mention the classic, sweeter German Rieslings; however, this tasting at Giaconda was something of an epiphany, as for the first time I was both impressed by and greatly attracted to the dry wines of Germany.

Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

This wine is so transparent in color that I expected a certain purity and was not disappointed. It has a lovely nose, mostly apples, with a pretty and complex lattice of spices and subtle minerals. In time, the mineral essence grows more pronounced; the verb "to unfurl" would be very apt here. The palate has vibrant, green-apple acidity and becomes sweeter on the finish where it is is balanced by the same acidity and a saline bite. This bite, along with a hint of sea shells in the mineral notes on the nose, gives the Rothberg a Chablis-like appeal. While only a runner-up for second place objectively, this is still the wine I wanted most to take home with me.

260 NIS.

Georg Breuer, Rheingau, Berg Roseneck, Riesling Erste Gewachs, 2007

Slightly deeper in color and (correspondingly?) "warmer" on the nose where I find apples and some peaches and a light touch of kerosene. It is rounder on the palate than the Grunderloch, and despite the good balance of fruit, sugar and acidity, it feels coarser. A good wine that left me a little underwhelmed, as it doesn't really soothe and doesn't really bite.

260 NIS.

Rebholz, Pfalz, Im Sonnenschien, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

The nose here is the most forward of the tasting, with tropical fruit, honey and flowers. The round palate replays the same motif, note for note. Very impressive on the surface, but not really what I look for in Germany. But it's all good and I suppose a modicum of taming will help it shed some baby fat.

351 NIS.

Donnhoff, Nahe, Niederhauser Hermannshohle, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

This is the most primal wine we tasted, one that almost nonchalantly shows its pedigree before it starts to shut down again. The fruit is very ripe on both nose and palate, but where the ripeness of the fruit acted as a sort of glass ceiling for the Rebholz, here it is only the backdrop. And what a long finish!

Sold out. This cost 260 , the 2008 costs 300 NIS.

Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Hallenberg, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

I love this from the first whiff: complex, idiosyncratic, perhaps a touch animalistic. The nose develops a terrific show of minerals towards the end, while the palate tries its best to match it, starting out one dimensional, then filling out, complexifying, gaining a very handsome length and a crisp finish.

330 NIS.

Schafer-Frohlich, Nahe, Bockenauer Felsenberg, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

I want to be a rebel but I come from a family of Polish Jews, so I'm embarassed to stick out in a crowd. So imagine my consternation when everyone except me went gaga over this wine. It's not that I disliked it or failed to take note of its fresh fruit and the subterranean vein of minerals lurking beneath its present one-dimensional facade and flaring up on the saline finish. I would like to have a good excuse for my indifference because this is a good wine and I love Nahe in general.

260 NIS.

Heymann-Lowenstein, Mosel-Saaw-Ruser, Roth Lay, Riesling Erste Lage, 2007

True to form, Heymann-Lowenstein is the most Alsace-like wine, with a Gewurtz-like flowers on the nose. Alas, I felt it unraveled on the finish, where the acidity did not really gel with the sweetness of the fruit.

250 NIS.

Keller, Rheinhessen, Dalsheimer Hubacker, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2006

Wow! The nose is really it! It is just so complex and vibrant and even now the fruit plays second fiddle to the flint and mushrooms. The palate is just as good, and probably more stimulating and challenging - raw, vibrant, its sheer energy and length besting most of the competition. And all that flint on the nose is as close to being moving that a damn rock has a right to be.

350 NIS.

Wittmann Rheinhessen, Westhofen Aulerde, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

Another great nose. I guess I really love how the minerals beat the crap out of the (mostly white?) fruit. The palate is obviously balanced and elegant yet so closed that I can almost sense it strain to express itself and that sense of struggle is a plus, for me, in this context, as it lends it character. Fine acidity, once again.

260 NIS.

Wittmann, Rheinhessen, Westhofen Kirchpiel, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007

This is much more refined and elegant than the Aulerde, yet in a way they're both two sides of the same coin, which is to say the wine-maker's signature is as clear as the difference in terroir. Terrific structure and a fine bite on the finish.

300 NIS.

Finally, for dessert, a surprise:

Rebholz, Pfalz, Godramsteiner Munzberg, Muskateller Auslese, 2005

Slutty guayava fruit, mint, lavender. Round, with acidity on the low side, but very tasty and a good sudden-death round in blind tastings.

190 NIS for a half-bottle.

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